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[book cover] Union Power

Carmela Patrias and Larry Savage

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May 2012

9781926836782 (Paperback)
9781926836799 (PDF)
9781926836805 (ePub)


Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH

History / History: Canada / History: Labour / Labour Studies



About the Book

From factory workers in Welland to retail workers in St. Catharines, from hospitality workers in Niagara Falls to migrant farm workers in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Union Power showcases the role of working people in the Niagara region. Charting the development of the region's labour movement from the early nineteenth century to the present, Patrias and Savage illustrate how workers from this highly diversified economy struggled to improve their lives both inside and outside the workplace. Including extensive quotations from interviews, archival sources, and local newspapers, the story unfolds, in part, through the voices of the people themselves: the workers who fought for unions, the community members who supported them, and the employers who opposed them.

Early industrial development and the appalling working conditions of the often vulnerable common labourer prompted a movement toward worker protection. Patrias and Savage argue that union power – power not built on profit, status, or prestige – relies on the twin concepts of struggle and solidarity: the solidarity of the shared interests of the working class and the struggle to achieve common goals. Union Power traces the evidence of these twin concepts through the history of the Niagara region's labour movement.


About the Authors

Carmela Patrias is a professor in the Department of History at Brock University. Her publications include: Patriots and Proletarians: Politicizing Hungarian Immigrants in Canada, Discounted Labour: Women Workers in Canada, 1870–1939, co-authored with Ruth Frager, and Jobs and Justice: Fighting Discrimination in Wartime Canada, 1939–1945.

Larry Savage is associate professor of labour studies and political science and director of the Jobs and Justice Research Unit at Brock University.



Download the eBook

Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA). It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the original author is credited.


Download the entire book

Select a Chapter

DownloadFront Matter

DownloadTable of Contents


DownloadList of Abbreviations


DownloadCanallers Fight for Work and Fair Wages

DownloadThe Early Labour Movement

DownloadClass and Ethnicity in the Early Twentieth Century

DownloadLabour Revolt in Niagara

DownloadWelfare Capitalism in Niagara

DownloadUnemployment and Organization During the Great Depression

DownloadThe Crowland Relief Strike

DownloadThe Cotton Mill Strike, 1936–37

DownloadThe Monarch Strike

DownloadThe CIO at McKinnon Industries

DownloadFighting for Democracy on the Home Front, 1939–45

DownloadNiagara Labour’s Cold War

DownloadWomen and Workers of Colour in the 1950s and 1960s

DownloadIdeologies Clashing: The 1970 UAW Strike

DownloadStrike Wave: 1972–76

DownloadCanadian Pulp and Paper Workers Fight Back

DownloadCorporate Restructuring and Labour’s Decline

DownloadThe Eaton’s Strike: Women Workers Walk the Line

Download“Don’t Lower the Standard”: The Newsroom on Strike

DownloadOccupation in Thorold

DownloadLabour Builds Brock: Unions and the University

DownloadLiving in a Dying Town: Deindustrialization in Welland

Download“Kicking Ass for the Working Class”: Hotel Workers in Niagara

DownloadThe House Advantage: Organizing Niagara’s Casinos

DownloadMigrant Farm Workers in Niagara

DownloadOrganized Labour and the New Democratic Party in Niagara





Union Power and?Working People in Alberta "provide an excellent look into the history of labour in Canada and how it has changed over time. Most notably each is an important addition to the struggle to keep labour history in the public eye."

—Joel Ralph,?Canada's History,?April-May?2013, p. 56


"A rich and compelling book that highlights the important role unions played in Canada’s Niagara region in both historical and contemporary periods. . . . The quality and quantity of original archival and oral history research is impressive."

Labor Studies Journal